Northwest heatwave blamed for dozens of deaths

PORTLAND, Ore. (KATU/CNN) – 79 people are confirmed dead in Oregon since Friday from the Pacific Northwest heatwave. Multnomah County was hit the hardest and, and as KATU’s Lincoln Graves reports, the toll could rise.

The Pacific Northwest’s heatwave wasn’t just record-breaking. It was deadly.

Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines said, “Many of them were found at home, not all of them.”

45 were killed in Multnomah County alone. However, not all deaths may have come to light yet.

Dr. Vines said, “We know a risk factor for a heat-related illness and death is social isolation, so sadly these deaths may be people that are yet to be discovered.”

The numbers are shocking, but not necessarily to the experts.

Paul Loikith is director of Portland State University’s climate science lab. He said, “Heat kills more Americans than any other weather-related phenomenon,”

Heatwaves have killed countless people across the world. But in the Northwest, we’re especially susceptible.

Loiketh said, “We have a larger proportion of the population without air conditioning than a lot of other hot places so we do have a higher level of vulnerability to heat than a place that more frequently gets these kind of temperatures.”

Experts are hoping people who went through this and really struggled will do what they can to prepare for another heatwave because they can be so dangerous.

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